April 10—O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

O sacred Head, now wounded,

With grief and shame weighed down;

Now scornfully surrounded

With thorns, thine only crown;

O sacred Head, what glory,

What bliss ’til now was thine!

Yet, though despised and gory,

I joy to call thee mine. (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” by Paul Gerhardt; trans. by James Waddel Alexander)

Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28–30 NLT)

Throughout the world, in ocean waters ranging from temperate to tropical, there lives a species of jellyfish that can undergo a remarkable metamorphosis. Like most other jellyfish, the Turritopsis dohrnii has three distinct stages of life: larvae, intermediate stage, and adult form. What makes this jellyfish unique – earned it the nickname as the immortal jellyfish – is this creature’s ability to revert from the adult stage to the intermediate stage when it is sick, old, or under environmental stresses. This effectively allows it to rewind the biological clock, a process that some scientists theorize could happen indefinitely. In other words, if all goes right, this jellyfish is able to cheat death.

Unlike Turritopsis dohrnii, Jesus did not cheat death. That was never His goal. From the beginning, the plan that He carried out to perfection was to die and resurrect, thereby defeating death once and for all. Once, because “he died once to break the power of sin” (Romans 6:10). And for all, because His resurrection was not solely for His benefit but for all of creation. His sacred head was wounded and He gave up His spirit while hanging on that cross so that we might receive salvation and freedom. It is for this reason that we call this day Good Friday, to celebrate the goodness of our God in the midst of all the pain, suffering, death, and evil that also marked that first Good Friday.

Spend a few minutes considering what kind of person you would have been without God’s intervention in our world and in your life through the Lamb of God who took on the sins of the world. Spend another ten minutes or more writing a poem or letter to God based on this reflection and thanking Him for His sacrifice.